Big things are happening at M&T Bank’s regional headquarters in Wilmington. Along with the news that it’s increasing its focus on digital comes a new Wilmington-based chief digital officer role, recently filled by former Bank of America executive Ishet Dhar.
In Delaware, banking has been central to Delaware’s economy since the Financial Center Development Act passed in 1981, and with the rise of technology in the 21st century, banks have become some of the state’s biggest financial technology companies. As banks become increasingly digital, they’re hiring more technologists — a trend that has continued through the COVID-19 pandemic.
M&T Bank is one of the growing number of companies with a chief digital officer, a C-level role that is responsible for developing and implementing its digital strategy — and in the case of M&T Bank, that strategy is customer-facing.
Dhar, whose role officially started Aug. 10, has worked in Wilmington for nearly two decades, commuting from his home in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. During that time, he also gained global experience, including most recently as Bank of America’s SVP of digital consumer delivery.
We sat down with Dhar to talk about the position and fintech’s ever-growing role in Delaware.
Technical.ly: What was your professional journey to this point like?
Ishet Dhar: My journey to this end has been very heavy in the financial services, whether it’s 17-plus years at Bank of America or my work before that in consulting and financial services in India. It’s been a number of roles, a number of assignments across products, and then sales and marketing and digital capabilities. It’s been a fun journey and I got to learn a lot.
What drew you to this role in particular?
It’s essentially a huge opportunity to supercharge the bank’s digital transformation and bring a more comprehensive and more seamless digital experience to our customers.
M&T is a super regional bank that is growing while it maintains that strong community banking-slash-neighbor feel. And the commitment to diversity at M&T is unbelievable and starts at the very top.
What does the chief digital officer do?
I’ll be laser focused on understanding the customer’s needs and experiences. We need to invest to be able to deliver those experiences, most in terms of core capabilities that we need to be able to support those needs. Because everybody is in a different journey in their lives, understanding where they are and what we can do to help them when they want it is one of the critical [areas of] focus.
Where in general do you see fintech moving in Delaware?
I think Delaware has been a pretty strong technology [sector] from a financial services perspective. It’s a pretty solid place. For anybody looking to invest in financial services or in fintech to build out teams there, I think of the strong presence of the large banks, the regional banks and then fintech [startups], there is huge opportunity.
It’s a beautiful state, there’s a lot of really good talent, there’s a lot to access in terms of schools and everything else, as far as the ability to build on a vision anybody has for fintech and banking.
What will M&T’s digital growth look like for Delaware?
I don’t have all the details yet on the investment M&T is making here yet, but there’s a lot of new focus on financial technology, and my ability to lead the integration and transformation of all our digital platforms is going to be huge.